Relates to:
Date: 1983-11-23

Author: Associated Press

CLAYTON, Mo. -- (AP) -- An adopted teenager being punished by his parents was forced to live in a 3-by-4-foot crate, say police, who found the barefoot youth hunched and shivering in a chilly basement .

The youth's parents, Howard and Marjorie Munson, were to be charged Tuesday with child abuse, said St. Louis County Lt. Richard O'Connor. He said it was "the worst case of child abuse we have ever investigated."

Police said they found the teenager, Alonso Richard Munson, on Friday, hunched and rocking back and forth inside a wooden crate about three feet wide and four feet high. He was barefoot and shivering in a basement so cold that officers could see their breath, police said.

The top of the crate was covered with canvas, but the sides were made of wooden slats that allowed the boy to look out, said Detective Michael Williams of the county police juvenile unit.

THE CAGE was not locked, and for the first three weeks of his confinement Alonso had been allowed to leave the cage to attend classes at Hazelwood Junior High School, police said.

For the last week, however, he had been let out only to go to the bathroom and had not been allowed to bathe, police said.

The youth, who was not physically injured, told authorities he expected to spend six weeks in the crate and had been disciplined in a similar way for three months starting in January.

Munson, a St. Louis attorney, and his wife told police they were punishing Alonso. The youth, who is between 13 and 15 years old, is a native of Colombia, South America, and was adopted by the Munsons a 1 1/2 years ago, authorities said.

Munson, 37, said he and his wife "are denying outright there's any merit to these charges," Munson said.

Police went to the home Friday after a call from a neighbor. The Munsons then were booked on suspicion of child abuse and released. Alonso was placed in a foster home.

The couple's other three children were adopted as infants, and there was no evidence they had been abused, police said. They were placed in the custody of county Juvenile Division authorities, police said.


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